SOUTH CHARLESTON — Another year of deer hunting is in the past and according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), Mason County hunters harvested a total of 4,511 deer in 2012, the second highest total in the state.
According to the DNR, the harvest numbers break down by season as follows: Buck gun, 1,697; antlerless, 2,026; Muzzleloader, 147; Archery, 641.
Although Mason County still had the second highest harvest in the state for 2012, numbers were down compared to 2011, when Mason County hunters brought in a total of 5,181 deer, 1,986 in Buck gun season, 2,125 in antlerless season, 320 in Muzzleloader season, and 750 in Archery season.
For the state of West Virginia, the DNR stated hunters harvested a total of 131,444 deer in 2012, with a total of 56,658 bucks, 45,169 antlerless season deer, 24,571 bow-killed deer and 5,046 muzzleloader season deer. It was also stated the 2012 harvest was three percent lower than the 2011 harvest of 135,696.
The DNR also reported on the differences between the harvest numbers for antlerless, muzzleloader, and archery seasons, saying the numbers for the 2012 antlerless season were 12 percent above the 2011 harvest, and the harvest for 2012 muzzleloader season was 36 percent below the 2011 muzzleloader harvest. For archery season, the 2012 numbers were 10 percent below the 2011 harvest.
“It is important to note that the antlerless harvest is the key component to any deer management strategy, as it controls the future deer population,” said DNR director Frank Jezioro. “Many counties had liberalized antlerless hunting seasons in 2012, including 10 counties that required hunters to harvest an antlerless deer before harvesting a second buck with a gun or bow, and a new October antlerless firearms season in all open counties. These modifications to the antlerless season structure led to an increase in the harvest and will ensure that deer populations do not exceed management objectives.”
Jezioro also explained a reason for the difference in muzzleloader seasons, saying a change in season dates and an above average acorn crop attributed to the lower harvest numbers. The lower archery season numbers were also attributed to hard mast crops and the above average acorn crop.